‘Broadcasting Pioneer,’ Former Cap Cities/ABC President Dan Burke Dies

Throughout the first-half of the 1990s, Dan Burke was a prominent executive at ABC.  It wasn’t divine intervention that brought Burke to the top of the management chain. Burke started with Capital Cities in 1961 as general manager for WTEN-TV in Albany. Ultimately, he would become a high-ranking executive with Cap Cities.

Burke died this morning following complicating from Type I Diabetes. He was 82.

In 1986, Capital Cities acquired ABC, which maintained ownership until Disney bought the company a decade later.

“Dan was a broadcasting pioneer who along with Tom Murphy took a small company and a big dream, and grew it into a television giant.” WABC/Channel 7 anchor Bill Ritter tells FishbowlNY. “Their purchase of the much larger ABC was a surprise to everyone except those who knew Dan and Tom.”

Ritter began at WABC in 1998, but started working for ABC News in 1992. Even though Burke retired 17 years ago as president and CEO, it doesn’t take much to feel his influence on a daily basis.

“Dan’s philosophy was always simple and straight forward: serve the viewers,” Ritter says. “It remains the philosophy that still guides the ABC network and stations. You walk into ABC headquarters and Dan’s picture is there.  His presence in so many ways is still felt and it always will be.”

After retirement, Burke used his creative juices to found a minor league baseball franchise–the Sea Dogs–in Portland, Maine.

Burke, who lived in Rye, New York, was involved in civic activities, including service as a director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Chairman Emeritus of New York Presbyterian Hospital (now Columbia Presbyterian).

He is survived by Harriet “Bunny” Burke, his wife of 54 years, and four children.